Oil prices eased early in Asia as crude output rises in virtually every major export region despite plans by OPEC and Russia to cut production, triggering fears that a fuel glut that has dogged markets for over two years might last well into 2017. International Brent crude oil futures were trading at $54.55 per barrel at 0128 GMT, down 39 cents, or 0.7 per cent, from their last close. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $51.32 a barrel, down 47 cents, or 0.9 per cent.
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Traders said the price falls were due to rising output from within the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russia. OPEC’s oil output set another record high in November, rising to 34.19 million barrels per day (bpd) in November from 33.82 million bpd in October, according to a survey based on shipping data and information from industry sources.
Russia on Friday reported average daily oil production of 11.21 million bpd for November – its highest in almost 30 years. That means that OPEC and Russia alone produced almost half of global oil demand, which stands just above 95 million bpd.
The news came just days after OPEC and Russia agreed an historic deal to cut output in 2017, triggering a more than 10 per cent rise in prices, in a bid to end a fuel supply overhang that has dogged markets for over two years.
In a further sign that the fight for market share is not over – especially in Asia, the world’s biggest consumer region – Saudi Aramco cut the January price for its Arab Light grade for Asian customers by $1.20 a barrel versus December. Despite these developments, analysts said prices were unlikely to tumble back to levels before last week’s deal announcements.
“Other than a complete deal collapse, we don’t see many catalysts to reverse the recent rally,” US bank Morgan Stanley said, adding that “a greater shift towards bullish positioning” was, in fact, pointing towards higher prices.